Interview date: 04/07/2009
Run date: 04/13/2009
It’s not every day that a soap opera regular – and sci-fi guest star – turns in her soft focus lighting for a chance to hang with all-around superdude Jack Bauer, but actress Annie Wersching did exactly that when she signed on to play the tough but vulnerable FBI Agent Renee Walker on this season of Fox’s terror drama “24.” Bullz-Eye caught up with Wersching to talk about the show’s placement in our Spring 2009 TV Power Rankings, Kiefer Sutherland’s masochistic side, the pros and cons of wearing one outfit for an entire season, and her love for the Cardinals.
Annie Wersching: Hello!
Bullz-Eye: Hello, Annie, how are you?
AW: I’m good, thanks!
BE: I wasn’t sure if anyone mentioned this, but our site has put together our TV Power Rankings for the season, and “24” is at #7.
AW: Fantastic, I suppose… (Laughs)
BE: Oh, you “suppose” because it wasn’t higher?
AW: Yeah, I’m kidding.
BE: Were you a fan of the show before signing on to play Agent Walker?
AW: I actually was. I was a huge fan. I’d seen every episode of every season going way, way back, so yes. Very surreal.
BE: Was there a palpable sense of urgency on the set, the feeling that this season had to be great in order to make up for the previous one?
AW: Yeah, there was, I think. You know, I think, combined with having a little bit longer to film this season, I think that helped us with having a little something to prove after Season Six.
BE: How much weapons and field training did you have before shooting began?
AW: I was cast pretty last-minute; I was the last main character [signed], they were having a hard time casting this role. So I was cast about two weeks before we started filming. I had one day of really intense firearm training, and other than that I was learning everything as needed, learning a specific fight for a specific episode on set. But I was a dancer growing up, so I took to [the fight sequences] pretty easily, but yeah, it was fun.
BE: Tell me about the process of shooting “24.” Is anything shot out of sequence, or it is all done in chronological order in order to preserve continuity?
AW: Oh no, it’s definitely out of sequence. We shoot two episodes at a time, so we take three weeks to shoot, like, episodes three and four together. I could start with my last scene from episode four and then go to my first scene from episode three, so it’s very jumbled back and forth. It depends on the director, too. Some of them like to keep it as close to an order as they can, but that’s hard to do sometimes with location. And because it’s based in Washington D.C. this year, we saved little bits and pieces from the first eight episodes, little scenes here and there, and then went to D.C. and would shoot a random scene for episode one even though we were already on episode nine, just so we could shoot it outside with monuments behind us. I have to say, thank goodness hair and makeup is on top of their continuity [list]. (Chuckles)
BE: That’s funny, because I was going to ask you something about how it must have been frustrating to see Renee get “put in holding”…
BE: …right after a scene where you got to kick some ass. Now that you’ve told me it’s all shot out of order, you may have been doing those scenes at the exact same time.
AW: Yeah, I was very sad when I was in the holding room for a while. (Laughs) But you get used to it in terms of trying to figure out where you are within those two episodes.
BE: How much fun was it to slap Kiefer Sutherland as hard as you can?
AW: (Laughs) It was very fun. He was a very good sport about it, and was actually encouraging me to slap him harder. I think he may have enjoyed it a little too much.
BE: How many takes did you have to do?
AW: It’s hard to remember. We did enough that we were concerned that there was a red mark being left on his cheek. As far as where you could see the hand hitting the cheek, maybe four [takes] or something.
BE: When you began shooting, did you wonder whether your character would live to see the final clock tick, given the tendency for Jack's love interests to bite it prematurely?
AW: Oh, of course, ha! Yeah, I knew the odds were stacked against me, but hey, it’s a chance I was definitely willing to take to get to run around with Jack Bauer.
BE: This is kind of a superficial question, but tell me about wearing the same outfit for an entire season. Is it refreshingly low-maintenance, or are you sick to death of wearing those clothes?
AW: Oh, you’re sick to death of them. I got to change in, I think, episode six, and I was so excited. “Oh, my gosh, a change!” And then after I had worn the new outfit for three or four episodes, I was, like, “I want to go back to my first outfit!” (Laughs) It takes a little bit of the fun out of it, in terms of going to set and seeing what you’re going to wear for the day, but then again, it’s also pretty easy, because once you have your wardrobe fitting at the beginning of the season, you don’t have to keep going back in and fitting new clothes. You do have different versions [of the same outfit], as far as bloody versions or…for me, after I had been buried, I had a shirt that had blood and dirt on it.
BE: Will we be seeing Renee Walker in Season Eight? Can you talk about that yet?
AW: Um, I don’t think I can talk about it much. I think something small has been announced about that…
BE: The only thing I’ve heard is that Anil Kapoor from “Slumdog Millionaire” is going to be on next year.
AW: Okay. I can’t really say anything yet, because you never know what’s going to happen on the show, and if someone’s going to live or die, so that kind of ruins the fun.
BE: Well, I’m sure you all have to sign contracts saying that you’ll hand your soul over to Rupert Murdoch if you give anything away.
AW: Yes, yes.
BE: Do you read any of the blogs about the show?
AW: Um (chuckles), it’s funny because right after it airs on Mondays, I go and peek [around the web] just for five minutes. I don’t know why, and I probably should stop, but sometimes I take a little peek, unfortunately.
BE: This is a shameless plug, but I actually write one on the show.
AW: Oh, do you?
BE: Yeah, and I’ve nicknamed your character Jacqueline Bauer.
AW: Jacqueline Bauer? Nice. (Laughs) So do you find that on Bullz-Eye, and search “24,” or something?
BE: Yeah, it’s on the site every Tuesday.
AW: That’s cool. I’ll check it out!
BE: Excellent. Let’s get to some non-“24”-related stuff. You’ve also done a fair amount of sci-fi-oriented series, having popped up on “Enterprise,” “Angel,” “Charmed,” and “Birds of Prey.” Were you just making the rounds at UPN and the WB at the time?
AW: (Laughs) Yeah, I don’t even know how that happened. “Enterprise” was a huge deal for me. That was my very first TV gig, it was a really nice-sized role. It was only one episode, but I’m still getting fan mail from that one, where people will send me trading cards of my character. I’m like, I was in one episode! How could I possibly have a trading card? (Laughs) But [“Enterprise” fans] have been pretty loyal.
BE: One of our other writers wanted me to mention that he was a fan of the episode of “Boston Legal” where you played a white supremacist.
AW: Oh! Yeah, kinda creepy. (Laughs)
BE: Was that challenging?
AW: Yeah. I just had to give myself over to, “She’s a crazy person,” and do it all with a smile and pretend that it was a normal thing. But it was fun, we got to learn that song, and I got to learn a couple of chords on the guitar, and do all that stuff with James Spader, so it was fun and creepy at the same time.
BE: Well, I have blown through all of my questions, which I was not expecting. The only thing I have left is that I see that you’re from St. Louis, so I take it you’re a Cardinals fan.
AW: I am a huge Cardinals fan, and they lost yesterday! (Note: she is referring to their game on Opening Day, where their rookie closer blew a two-run lead in the ninth to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.)
BE: In magnificent fashion, didn’t they?
AW: (Bummed) Yeah. My best friend back in St. Louis was at the game, and she’s like, “It’s snowing, and gloves are $18. What am I doing at a baseball game when it’s snowing?” (Laughs)
BE: Well, that’s what happens with rookie closers, they tend to choke like that.
AW: Mmmm, yeah. Where are you from? You sound like a baseball fan.
BE: I lived in Chicago for ten years, so I’m a Cubs fan, but I always loved it when the Cardinals came up because the St. Louis fans were always the best. They know their baseball, and they don’t take it too seriously.
AW: Yeah. There are two weekends coming up where the Cubs and Cardinals are at it, so that should be fun.
BE: Talk to me when the Cubs win a playoff game, but until they do, I’m just going to assume that they’re going to choke, like they always do.
AW: Right, right.
BE: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
BE: I’m very curious to find out what happens with Miss Jacqueline Bauer over the rest of the season.
AW: (Laughs) Well, I’m gonna check out your blog next Tuesday, so you better say something nice.
BE: I’m always nice to you. I hope that you live to see the final clock tick.AW: Cool, thank you!